There is great excitement for the start of NASA's Mars 2020 mission on July 20.
On the way to the red planet will be the Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity, a small helicopter that will be the first plane to fly to another planet.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has just released a video (below) that shows the clever way Perseverance will use the helicopter once it reaches the surface of Mars.
As NASA explains in its tweet, "The journey runs from 314 million miles to the last few centimeters" for the helicopter, which relies on Perseverance to place it safely on the ground before its maiden flight.
The journey of 314 million miles amounts to the last few centimeters. See how the Mars Helicopter Delivery System safely brings Ingenuity to the surface of the Red Planet, where it makes its first experimental powered flight in another world. https://t.co/TGGmQhSg4U pic.twitter.com/LAU5JMRDl1
– NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) June 23, 2020
In the upcoming mission, Perseverance will scan the surface of Mars for signs of old life. The six-wheeled machine, which was put through its paces before the highly anticipated mission, will also collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth.
Ingenuity will help NASA find potentially useful research sites on the planet and collect data to map routes for future Mars rovers. The helicopter weighs only 1.8 kg and has four rotors, each a little over a meter long. At the core is a small, box-like fuselage that holds the aircraft's downward-facing camera. Solar cells and batteries take care of the helicopter's power requirements, while internal heating helps it cope with the extremely cold nights of Mars.
The mission was recently delayed by several days because additional time was required to repair some ground system equipment related to the launch. Assuming everything goes according to plan from now on, the United Launch Alliance rocket, which carries both the rover and the helicopter, will take off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 9:15 a.m. on July 20 with the equipment that will reach Mars in February 2021.
Check back later for more information on how to follow the launch live online.